RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. - An assistant coach twice before in the BACF Basketball Classic, Ravenswood's Chris Michael will lead the West Virginia girls this year in their 10th annual game against Ohio. Michael, 37, has been the head coach of the Red Devil girls for the last decade, but also played basketball for Mick Price at Ravenswood, graduating in 1991. Michael started college at Fairmont State, where he ran cross country. ''I was the Falcons' No. 1 cross-country runner for two years,'' he said. But Michael ended up transferring to Marshall, from where he got his education degree and then returned to Jackson County to begin teaching, eventually moving to Ravenswood High School. Now in his 13th year in the Jackson County school system, Michael served as an assistant to then-girls head coach Butch Varney for two years before assuming the girls cage reins for the last 10 seasons.
''We were in a rebuilding process for my first couple years as head coach, so those were kind of tough,'' said Michael. ''But once we got things going the right way, we had a lot of success over the last five or six years.''
Of course, that span just this season culminated in three straight Final Four finishes in the state tournament.
In fact, counting the last four seasons, this year's four seniors were part of a group that produced a 74-26 record at Ravenswood.
Michael now has the Red Devil girls varsity program at a level, where ''although you can't expect to be in the Final Four every year, the expectations are high and the kids work hard at it because they know and understand what the program's all about.''
Michael was happy about coming back to Ravenswood, although that wasn't necessarily the plan. ''I kind of always felt I wanted to stay in West Virginia, not necessarily Ravenswood though, but things have worked out really well here,'' he said. ''And by being here, I feel like I've kind of been able to contribute back to the school that helped me get to where I'm at today.''
Michael has been married since 2000 to the former Katie Alfred, a standout four-sport performer at Ravenswood High School in softball, basketball, volleyball and track.